On Wednesday, March 18, I had a great time at the Improv Night put on by the Taiwanese Student Association, and organized by Austin Luor ’17 and Emily Wu ’18. I had never been to a TSA event before, and I was extremely pleased with the atmosphere there. Everyone I talked to was welcoming and approachable. There was also a good musical selection as we waited for the event to start, which took a little while to get everything together, but everyone was so pleasant I hardly noticed. I’ll freely admit that I do not have much experience with improv comedy, but this was very fun. The night was set up as a series of five games for groups of four to compete in, and the group that won the most games received prizes. All of the games had a Taiwanese theme and were generally very entertaining.
Before any of the games actually started, we were all shown a video that depicted a shy and lonely college student without friends who then found her inner self and became a better person for it, ending with her being handed a pamphlet for the improv night itself. The video was interesting and was a good introduction.
The first game was a Pictionary/charades combination as a warm up before they got to the actual improv part of the night. Each team was given a series of Taiwanese objects that they could either act out or draw. This game didn’t particularly draw my attention, because Pictionary and charades are only really fun if you’re playing. However, the rest of the games absolutely made up for this.
In the second game the groups pretended to be hosts on a cooking show. What made the game funny was that the groups were also playing “not my arms,” a game in which one person stands behind the other person and acts as their arms.
Each food that the groups “made” was a cultural food from Taiwan, and after the group was finished the type of food and the culture behind it was explained. However, after the first couple of foods there were some concerns about time so these explanations were shortened. I had a lot of fun watching this game, as all of the teams had a unique and hilarious way that they approached it.
I think one of the best comedic elements was accidental: Often actors would forget that the front person wasn’t supposed to use their arms and they briefly became a four-armed person. The game was especially confused by the fact that the competitors could be told to switch who had control of the arms at any time throughout the game.
The third game was the funniest because the audience had to choose a relationship between the four members of a group and TSA’s E-board provided the groups with a location. One of the groups had their 69th Brandeis alumni reunion in a night market, and watching them imitate the elderly playing ring toss was one of the most comedic moments. Another group was a pet store owner with three pets—an octopus, a parrot and a loris—and the animals were in a love triangle. The last group had the four characters rowing boats near each other, when the two guys realized that the girls were pop stars and acted like crazy fanboys, jumping out of the boat.
In the fourth game, each group came up with their own skit, but at random points had to read a different prompt off of a piece of paper. One of the teams was decorating Levin Ballroom for a night market and ended up incorporating reading Harry Potter on the beach and sitting on porcupines. Another team was made up of two evil villains who turned everyone into bacon and made them speak Chinese. On a scavenger hunt, the final team read each prompt like it was a clue, which was very clever of them.
In the final game, each group was shown a clip and given 30 seconds before the clip was played again and they had to act out the clip as it played and then continue the scene. They could also be commanded to pause, fast forward or rewind the scene at any time. This was fairly entertaining, and I think it was a good game to end on. I didn’t really understand the initial clips, because I do not understand Chinese well, but I thought the skits were fantastic.
All of the competitors performed really well, and I had a great time watching everything. The commentary from the judges was also fun to listen to, and I think the night went very well overall.